Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moved to Wordpress!

For those of you who are still using/following "," I've left Blogger and moved on over to Wordpress, so this site won't be getting any more updates.

If you want to keep following me, "" is where you should go. Hope you like the new layout :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

S'mores Pie

Call me crazy, but in my mind s'mores are a fall treat, not summer. I know, I know...summer camp and overnight camping trips --> camp fires --> s'mores and ghost stories. Camp fires remind me of autumn and cold weather, though. Maybe it's because I went to math camp instead of summer camp. Or, maybe it's because when I see a roaring fire burning real wood, I think of cool New England nights in Massachusetts with Dan's family. Either way, the only time I crave s'mores is when there's a chill in the air. And folks, it's starting to get nippy hereabouts...

If you're an avid FoodGawker, you'll know that this S'mores Pie is actually an imitation of the S'mores Bars posted by Endless Simmer blog last week. I tried to follow their recipe, but I couldn't get 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs to cover the bottom of an 11x13 baking dish and still come out as thick as the bars pictured in the original post. So, I made some adjustments to the recipe, put everything together in a pie dish, and called this sucker a s'mores pie. See, potential employers? I am creative and think well on my feet.

The Endless Simmer's trick of mixing Cocoa Pebbles into the chocolate layer of this pie is genius. Without the flavor/textural contrast provided by the cereal, this pie would pretty much be a giant chunk of chocolate with some marshmallows on top. Not that that wouldn't be delicious, but it would certainly be much harder to eat in one sitting. The Cocoa Pebbles really helps cut the richness of the pie and provide an interesting crunch that makes this treat extra addictive. I guarantee you won't be able to stop at just one piece. 

S'mores Pie (Adapted from the Endless Simmer blog's recipe)

- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp melted butter

- 12 oz dark chocolate
- 2/3 cup skim milk
- 2 cups Cocoa Pebbles
- 1 cup mini marshmallows

- 2 cups mini marshmallows

(1) Preheat oven to 350.
(2) In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl. Mix well.
(3) Firmly press mixture into the bottom of a pie dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Set aside and cool.
(4) In a sauce pan/pot, melt chocolate with milk over medium/low heat. Whisk until smooth. Cool for about 10 minutes.
(5) Add Cocoa Pebbles and 1 cup marshmallows to cooled chocolate. Mix until well-combined.
(6) Pour chocolate mixture over graham cracker crust.
(7) Pour remaining 2 cups mini marshmallows on top of the pie. Press down slightly to help them stick.
(8) Transfer pie to broiler for about 2 minutes to lightly toast the marshmallows.
** Keep an eye on your marshmallows while they're under the broiler. I forgot how powerful my oven was, and my marshmallows got a little too toasty. I personally like crispy 'mallows, but I had to pull off a lot of burnt bits for the pie's beauty shots. I would recommend broiling for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and then deciding if you want to keep your pie in the oven longer after that.
(9) Chill for a couple hours, then slice up and serve with a big glass of milk.

For other great recipe ideas, click here or here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dan in the Kitchen -- Ranch Burgers

Yesterday, I made a batch of brioche buns with hamburgers in mind. But, they turned out to be small and biscuit-like, so I decided to eat them for breakfast instead, maybe slathered with a little jam or cherry butter. Problem is, there are a lot of buns, and I don't actually eat breakfast much. Dan doesn't either, unless it's a muffin or bagel. Hmm.

My main concern with using the brioche buns for burgers was that they wouldn't be sturdy enough to stand up to a thick, juicy patty. Dan thought they would work though, so...hello, Dan in the Kitchen #4! I'm always happy to stand aside and let someone else cook dinner.

These ranch burgers were inspired by one of the Ranch dressing commercials -- you know, the one where a woman is cooking dinner for her family and she decides to throw a packet of Ranch powder into a bowl of ground beef to give her burgers extra flavor. Seemed like a tasty idea, so we decided to give it a try.

Honestly? Couldn't really taste the Ranch. The burgers were juicy and meaty, but I think our beef to Ranch ratio was too skewed in favor of beef to taste anything other than cow. We'll have to try using two packets of Ranch next time. (Oh, and the buns held up just fine! They're sturdier than they look.)

Ranch Burgers

- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1 to 2 packets Ranch dressing powder
- 2 brioche buns

(1) Fire up your outdoor grill, or set your indoor grill to "high."
(2) In a large bowl, mix Ranch powder and ground beef until well mixed.
(3) Divide your ground beef into two portions, and shape them into patties.
** Note from Dan: Ground meat is really gross, and working with it by hand is not the greatest sensation. But, you have to suck it up and pack your patties firmly, or you'll end up with a crumbly burger.
(4) Grill your patties for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Resist the urge to flip constantly.
(5) Slice brioche buns in half, and lay them on the grill for about a minute.
(6) Slide your burgers onto your toasted buns.
(7) Eat hot, with all the fixings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brioche Buns

Guys, making bread is hard. Or maybe I'm just really bad at it. Either way, my dough just doesn't rise the way it's supposed to. Either my yeast is sluggish, or I'm killing them. I could swear I did everything right this time, though -- I let the yeast percolate in warm sugar water...I didn't use scalding milk or acidic buttermilk...I let the dough rest in a warm place...I even toned down my stirring/kneading just in case too much vigorous activity scared the little suckers. But nope. Dough only rose a little bit. Goddamnit.

I mean, these brioche buns turned out OK, but they're definitely not as light and fluffy/puffy as they should've been. And, my egg wash didn't give them a gorgeous, shiny sheen like it was supposed to. In fact, I would say that these buns are more biscuit than brioche. Which is why I decided to eat one smeared with cherry butter for breakfast instead of using it as a burger bun. It was edible. It was tender. It was tasty, even. But it wasn't brioche. Sigh. 

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of the Kitchen Simplicity blog.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Triple Chocolate Loaf Cake

For once, I don't have a back story to explain my motivation for making this cake. And, I can't think of any anecdotes associated with either chocolate or loaf cake. I just really wanted something sweet and chocolate-y to go with my turkey sandwich.

(BTW, I have balcony furniture now! You like?)

Luckily, I had all the ingredients for a simple loaf cake, two types of chocolate chips, and a canister of dark chocolate cocoa powder. All things considered, triple chocolate loaf cake seemed like the way to go. 

With three kinds of chocolate in the batter, this was a very decadent cake, and I wanted something to cut the richness. Fresh fruit and whipped cream were the first things to come to mind. Good thing I had plenty of strawberry puree left over from when I was making strawberry mousse for my dad's birthday cake. Blended with freshly whipped cream, it was the perfect garnish for my afternoon snack.

Triple Chocolate Loaf Cake (Adapted from the Bittersweet Baker's recipe)

- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli)
- 1-1/2 flour
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup white chocolate chips

(1) Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
(2) In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients until well-combined.
(3) In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
(4) Slowly mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to form the batter. Stir well.
(5) Gently stir in milk and white chocolate chips. Mix until chips are uniformly distributed throughout the batter.
(6) Pour batter into the greased loaf pan.
(7) Bake for about an hour.
** The original recipe says to bake for up to 1 hour and 10 minutes. My oven runs hot, so I always bake for about 10-20 minutes less than what the recipe calls for.
(8) Cool for about 15 minutes, then serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
** My loaf cake sank in on top during the cooling process. From what I can tell from the original recipe and other pictures, that's supposed to happen. Not very pretty, but you can always fill the hole in with whipped cream and fruit.

For other great recipe ideas, click here or here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Apple Streusel Muffins

Did you guys know that it's September already? The middle of September? That means that summer is practically over, and fall is just around the corner. Man, where does the time go? I feel like I just barely got used to wearing skirts and shorts outside, yet my tan is already fading and I have to start pulling out my jeans and sweaters from the back of the closet. Bummer.

Sad as I am about the end of summer, though, I can freely admit that fall isn't all bad. Fall foliage is pretty allergies aren't as bad this time of year...and there aren't as many bugs around.  And, lets not forget all the delicious fruits/vegetables that are in season in the fall. Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cranberries, pears, apples...mmm!

Funny story about apples: when I first came to America, I thought apples were something that students were supposed to give to their teachers every day, because that's what everyone on TV did. My first grade teacher got a lot of apples from me before I figured out that (1) she never actually ate them, and (2) no one else gave her apples. As I got older, I ate apples every day because they were delicious, kept the doctor away, and were great for my girlish figure. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started associating apples with fall -- hot apple cider, warm apple pie, etc. I still eat an apple a day, year round, but -- call me crazy -- I feel like they're extra delicious in the fall. Maybe it's something in the air.

Anyway, when Dan finally finished the last of the blueberry muffins this week, I asked him how he felt about the next batch being chocolate-peanut butter flavored. Shockingly, he was not enthused. Chocolate peanut butter muffins are apparently delicious right before bed, but too heavy for breakfast. What the heck kind of logic is that? There is never a bad time for chocolate and peanut butter. Still, the muffins were for Dan, so I had to give the man what he wanted, which was either more blueberries or some other fruit. 

Given the changing seasons, apples were an obvious choice. They're are almost as tasty in baked goods as chocolate/peanut butter, and definitely a little healthier. But, I couldn't resist making these muffins at least a little bit decadent, so I decided to throw some streusel topping into the mix as well. Delicious! The muffins were light and cinnamon-y, with soft chunks of apples in each bite; and the crunchy sweet topping was the icing on top of the cake (or, you know...the muffin). Best of all, there was enough batter/streusel leftover from Dan's muffins to make a small apple streusel cake just for me!

Apple Streusel Muffins (Adapted from Our Life in the Kitchen's recipe)

- 2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 tsp cinnamon

(Streusel Topping)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- Cinnamon for sprinkling

(1) Preheat oven to 400. Line a muffin tin with cupcake wrappers.
(2) In a large bowl, mix together wet and dry ingredients for the muffins until well combined.
(3) Gently stir in chopped apple.
(4) Scoop about 1/4 cup batter into each cupcake liner -- the cups should be 2/3 full. Set aside
(5) In a medium bowl, mix together ingredients for streusel topping.
** The original recipe called for 1/4 cup flour to be used for the streusel, but I found that the mixture was way too runny with just that amount. I kept adding more flour a little at a time until the topping became crumbly and was recognizable as streusel. 1/2 cup is my best guess at the total amount used.
(6) Spoon streusel topping on top of the batter in each muffin cup. Use as much as you want -- I sprinkled enough to cover the entire top.
(7) Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of the streusel.
(8) Bake for 20-25 minutes.
(9) Enjoy warm with a glass of milk.

For other great recipe ideas, click here.

Jam Hands

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

First Patriots game of the season was last night, and Dan was giddy with excitement. Me? Not so much. As dreamy as Tom Brady is, my favorite part of watching football is the eating. Chips and Mmm, junk food!

I saw this recipe for pizza puffs on FoodGawker and knew right away that I was going to have to make them. The ingredients were all things I had laying around, the prep/cook time was short, and the recipe just looked/sounded really tasty. 

These puffs are seriously delightful, guys. They taste exactly like pizza, but fluffier. And, because they're bite-sized, they're extra easy to eat. You pop one in your mouth, chew, savor the deliciously cheesy flavor, and the next thing you know the whole plate is gone. Definitely a great addition to the list of appetizers/snacks that will help get me through football season.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs (Adapted from the Kirbie's Cravings recipe)

- 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used Parmesan and Colby Jack)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/3 cup pepperoni, chopped/diced
- Salt/pepper to taste
- Italian seasoning

(1) Preheat oven to 400, and grease a mini-muffin pan.
(2) In a large bowl, mix everything but the Italian seasoning.
** You should get a batter that's slightly less thick than pancake batter.
(3) Scoop batter into the cups of the mini-muffin pan, about 2/3 full. Sprinkle some Italian seasoning on top of the batter in each cup.
(4) Bake 10-12 minutes.
(5) Serve warm with a side of marinara or pasta sauce.

For other great recipe ideas, click here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chinese Bakery-Style Birthday Cake with Strawberry Mousse Filling

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I made my dad a Chinese bakery-style cake for his birthday. It was just like the one I made for my mom last year, except instead of using vanilla custard and peaches/kiwis, I filled this one with strawberry mousse and fresh strawberries. I know. I'm on a strawberry kick. What can I say, I'm not ready to let go of summer yet.

Now, everyone knows that I love cake. Chocolate cake, cheesecake, cakes filled with shredded vegetables, loaf cake, cake covered in sugary sweet glaze...I've never met a slice a cake I didn't like. But of all the cakes I've consumed in the last 25 years, I love Chinese bakery-style birthday cakes the most.  Trust me when I say that they are vastly superior to every other cake out there.

They're light and fluffy, not too sweet, filled with fresh fruit, and coated with a light and delicate whipped cream frosting. And, if you sandwich thick strawberry mousse and sliced strawberries between the layers of fluffy cake...heaven. Each bite just melts in your mouth, and you can eat more than one piece without feel queasy or jittery from sugar overload. It's fantastic. Try it!

This recipe is inspired by a recent post from my friend Lucy.

- For directions on how to make the cake base and whipped cream frosting, click here or here.

- For directions on how to make the strawberry mousse, click here.
** I didn't have time to macerate strawberries for the mousse, so I just blended a lot of fresh strawberries with 3/4 cups sugar. That seemed to work just fine.

For other great recipe ideas, click here or here.

BY THE friend Melissa started a food blog recently, and she just made a post about Chinese birthday longevity noodles. How appropriate! Show some support for a new member of the food blogging community, and check out her site.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dan in the Kitchen -- Roasted Parsley and Garlic Baby Potatoes

So, last year I cooked my mom a delicious Chinese birthday lunch, complete with a homemade Chinese bakery-style birthday cake. For my dad's birthday a few months before that, we went to Red Lobster and got him one of those giant fruit tarts from Safeway. Looking back, that didn't seem fair, since my dad is pretty frickin' awesome and definitely deserved to eat something other than rubbery fried seafood and cheesy garlic biscuits on his big day (even if those biscuits are delicious). So, this year I decided to rectify the situation and cook him a delicious and elaborate birthday lunch. On the menu: roast chicken, grilled salmon, tomato-mozzarella crostini, roasted asparagus, creamed spinach, and roasted parsley & garlic baby potatoes. And for dessert, a Chinese bakery-style birthday cake with strawberry mousse filling.

One slight problem with my grand plans -- my parents were scheduled to come over at noon today, but Dan and I decided to go camping with our friend Andy in West Virginia yesterday and didn't make it back home until 10:30 this morning. So that's roughly 1.5 hours to roast a chicken, grill some salmon, throw together all of the other appetizers and sides, and bake a cake. Yikes.

Thank God for Dan. Despite getting up at 6:30 this morning, driving 130 miles straight (and therefore not being able to nap in the car like I did), and not having time for a bathroom break, he offered to take over some of the cooking duties. Most of them, actually. In the end, all I had to do was roast a chicken, slap salmon on a pan and make a cake; Dan took care of the spinach, asparagus, crostini, and potatoes. 

There wasn't time to take pictures of Dan doing everything in the kitchen, so "Dan in the Kitchen: Part 3" only showcases him making roasted baby potatoes. Really yummy, garlicky, crispy-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside potatoes drenched in olive oil. So. Good.

In case you're wondering, my dad enjoyed all the food immensely, and ate multiple helpings of everything. And, he was especially pleased that Dan had a hand in putting together his lunch. Dan earned so many brownie points with everyone today. Seriously.

Roasted Parsley and Garlic Baby Potatoes (Adapted from the Unsophisticook's recipe)

- 2 lb mixed bag of baby potatoes (Our bag had Yukon, Russet, and some type of purple potato. The original recipe used fingerling potatoes, so that's fine too.)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1-1/2 tbsp dried parsley
- Salt/pepper to taste (Dan used 1-1/2 tbsp salt)

(1) Preheat oven to 425.
(2) In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.
(3) Cut potatoes into halves or fourths, depending on how big/small you want your pieces to be.
(4) Toss the potatoes in the olive oil mixture.
** Tip from Dan: Really get your hands in there. You want to get olive oil on EVERYTHING.
(5) Spread potatoes out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
(6) Roast for about 35 minutes.
(7) Serve hot, with roast chicken and fresh bread. (But, also really tasty eaten cold by themselves.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strawberry Cake

You know what blows? Unemployment. Rain. Crappy day time television. Job applications. Extreme boredom. Put those things together, let it marinate for two weeks, and you'll have yourself a big mess of complete and utter, "get-me-out-of-this-house-before-I-kill-the-cats" stir craziness.

You know what doesn't suck, though? Light, fluffy vanilla cake stuffed with fat, juicy strawberries. A perfectly moist cake made with simple ingredients that are sure to be sitting in your pantry/fridge right now. A sweet treat that can be mixed, baked, cooled, and devoured in less than an hour. 

This cake is the only thing keeping me sane today. There's something about cracking eggs and stirring batter and slicing strawberries that's really soothing. It's familiar, it's easy, and I'm guaranteed to get something great at the end of my labors. I'm still a little stir crazy, but after a few slices of this stuff I'm starting to feel like maybe life isn't so bad when there's strawberry cake to eat.

Recipe can be here, courtesy of the Gourmand Recipes blog.
** I didn't have milk in the house, so I used 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream instead. Worked just fine, and I think probably added some extra sweetness/richness to the cake.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

My friend Mark came over for lunch yesterday. He's a fantastic cook. During law school he was constantly whipping up delicious treats in his kitchen and bringing them to class. You'd think all that cooking would be a distraction during school, but he was also acing all his classes, teaching legal research and writing to bright young minds, and moonlighting as the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review Journal. Don't you hate people who are good at everything?

Anyway, after drooling over his baked goods for the last three years, I've been dying to cook with Mark. So, when he came over, I roped him into helping me make a quiche. In no time at all, we were rolling out our store-bought pie crust, cooking/chopping fresh spinach, sauteing mushrooms, and whipping up the creamy base for the quiche filling. We were like a well oiled machine, chatting and chopping and whisking. But, hey wait a minute...when did the pie crust go in the oven??? Eff. Turns out, we not only forgot to set a timer for the crust, but also failed to put in pie weights before baking. So yeah, it came out just a little burnt, and very shriveled. Oy. Thank god there was another crust in the package. 

The second time around, we nailed it. The crust was baked, filled, and then stuck back in the oven for one final round. The resulting quiche was flaky, creamy, savory, and every bit as delicious as we hoped it would be. Thanks, Mark!

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche (Adapted from The Faux Martha's recipe)
** Looking back at my recipes, I do seem to do the spinach/mushroom combo a lot. I know there are a lot more interesting flavor combos for vegetarian fare, but spinach/mushroom is just so delicious!

- 1 store-bought pie crust, rolled out.
- 3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 3 large eggs
- 3-4 cups fresh spinach, boiled, drained, and chopped (Or, 1 package frozen chopped spinach)
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 cup chopped portobello mushroom
- Salt/pepper to taste
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic

(1) Preheat oven to 425.
(2) Press rolled out pie crust firmly into a pie dish, making sure it sticks firmly to the bottom/sides of the dish. lay a large sheet of wax paper on top of the pie crust, and line with dried beans or pie weights.
(3) Bake crust for about 10 minutes, then pull it out and set it aside to cool. Leave oven on.
(4) In a large pan, sautee the garlic, onion and chopped mushroom in olive oil until onion pieces are translucent. Season with salt/pepper to taste. Remove from heat, add spinach, and mix until well-combined. Set aside to cool.
(5) Beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth.
(6) Add eggs, then gradually beat in cream. Mix until smooth.
(7) Stir in cheese.
(8) Add spinach/mushroom to the creamy mixture, and stir until well-combined.
(9) Pour filling into the prepared pie crust.
(10) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is set and lightly brown in spots on top.
(11) Cool for 10 minutes, then dig in!

For other great food ideas, click here or here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

I woke up this morning with the most intense craving for a gigantic blueberry muffin. You know, one of those sugar-crusted monstrosities from Costco that's packed to bursting with fat blueberries. Those things are so bad for you, but they're so delicious! They're really just dessert masquerading as breakfast. (Which is fine by me -- my parents used to let me eat cake and pie and ice cream for breakfast all the time.)

These days, my metabolism really can't handle actual desserts or an entire Costco muffin for breakfast anymore, but I can certainly put away a whole bunch of these equally yummy, normal-sized muffins. There is less than a cup of sugar in the whole batch, and two cups of fresh, juicy berries go into the batter. I'm pretty sure one of these muffins satisfies at least one daily recommended serving of fruit...maybe.

Blueberry Muffins (Adapted from the Mochi Thoughts recipe)

Ingredients: (Makes exactly 1 dozen muffins)
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- A little over 1/3 cup milk
- 2 cups fresh blueberries

(1) Preheat oven to 400, and fill a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
(2) In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients until well combined.
(3) Slowly stir in the oil and egg. Batter should be very thick.
(4) Add milk. If 1/3 cup is not enough to thin out the batter, add more slowly.
** I used between 1/3 and 1/2 cup total. Batter should be a little thicker than pancake batter.
(5) Gently mix in blueberries.
(6) Scoop about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup.
(7) Gently press 3-4 blueberries onto the top of the batter in each muffin cup. The batter should be thick enough that the blueberries won't sink in.
(8) Bake for 20 minutes.
(9) Best eaten warm, but delicious any time.

For other great food ideas, click here or here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Meatball Sub

Looks like Hurricane Irene is the new Snowpocalypse -- everything is closed, traffic has ground to a halt, and everyone is holed up in their homes. The only difference, I guess, is that we're actually prepared to battle the forces of nature this time around.  Maybe a little too prepared. BJ's was a mad house yesterday! I was just there to get some snacks, but it seemed like everyone else was stocking up on enough bottled water and dry foods to survive the Apocalypse. I almost caved in to the peer pressure and got some water myself, but I was on foot and couldn't possibly carry all that back home. Besides, the storm is only supposed to last a day or two, and I've got a full Brita, orange juice, Gatorade, and lots of soda.

Anyway, with the storm a' brewin' outside, all my weekend plans have been canceled, so there's nothing left for me to do but watch the Ghost Whisperer marathon on WeTV, terrorize the cats, and cook. The TV is on, my cats are currently in hiding, and it's just about time for dinner. Dan hasn't had much of an appetite lately, so I really want to make something yummy to tempt him into eating a full meal. Seems like kind of a perfect time to make some homemade meatball subs. What could be tastier than warm, crusty bread, gooey cheese, and juicy meatballs smothered in savory red sauce? Nothing at all, especially in this weather.

Hope you guys are having as much fun during the hurricane as I am!  In the meantime, stay dry, be safe, and I'll see everyone on Monday when this all blows over.

Meatball Sub

- 1 lb beef
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 1-1/2 tbsp salt (more if you like your food salty)
- 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 container tomato sauce (I used Prego)

(1) Preheat oven to 325.
(2) In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until well-mixed. The meat should be very malleable, and not sticky.
(3) Roll meat mixture into balls, 1-inch in diameter. Place balls on a greased pan. Don't crowd the pan, but you don't have to worry about these meatballs spreading, so you can line them closer than you would if you were working with cookie dough.
(4) Bake meatballs for about 8 minutes.
(5) While meatballs are baking, start heating the pasta sauce in a large sauce pan.
(6) Take the meatballs out of the oven and scoop them into the bubbling sauce. Leave the oven on.
(7) Cook meatballs in sauce for about 3 minutes. Turn stove off.
(8) Cut a 6-7 inch wedge off the end of a loaf of French bread. Slice length-wise without severing the loaf all the way in half.
(9) Line the bottom half with provolone cheese. Scoop about 4-5 meatballs into the middle, and top with more provolone.
(10) Place your sandwich onto a baking sheet and slide back in the oven. Bake for about 1 minute, or until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chopped or dried parsley.
(11) Eat immediately, with a lot of napkins on hand.

For other great recipes, click here, here or here.

Jam Hands

Friday, August 26, 2011

Goat Cheese and Colby Jack Sandwich with Kimchi, Spinach, and a Runny Egg

Guys, I just had the greatest sandwich ever for lunch -- wheat toast, two kinds of melted cheese, spinach, kimchi, and a runny egg. So messy, so flavorful, so amazingly delicious. 

I've learned from reading my friend Sam's food blog this year that a runny egg makes everything extra delicious. And, as everyone knows, kimchi and runny eggs are a match made in foodie heaven. So when you get crazy and throw tangy goat cheese and hearty colby jack into the mix, you get something totally divine. Every bite is a study in flavor and textural contrasts -- salty/soft goat cheese, creamy egg yolk, spicy/tangy/crunchy kimchi, toasted wheat bread, and mellow baked spinach. Yum.

This sandwich probably isn't for everyone, since kimchi is more or less an acquired taste. But, if you took that out you'd still have yourself a deliciously creamy, oozy, egg and cheese sandwich. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Goat Cheese and Colby Jack Sandwich with Kimchi, Spinach, and a Runny Egg

- 2 slices wheat bread
- 1 tbsp goat cheese
- 1 slice colby jack cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/2 cup kimchi
- Sea salt

(1) Preheat oven to 350.
(2) Place colby jack cheese on top of one slice of bread in an even layer. Top with spinach.
(3) Even distribute goat cheese over the second slice of bread.
(4) Slide both pieces of bread into the oven, laying them directly on middle rack.
(5) While you're waiting for the bread to toast and cheese to melt, start cooking your egg. Crack a large egg into a hot pan. Nudge/fold the spreading egg yolk until it's roughly the size/shape of your bread. Cook until egg whites are opaque, and yolk is still runny.
(6) Carefully remove bread from the oven, and slide them onto a plate.
(7) Gently slip your runny egg on top of the spinach-laden bread slice. Sprinkle with sea salt.
(8) Layer kimchi on top of the bread with goat cheese, then combine the two slices into a sandwich.
(9) Cut in half and eat immediately. Sop up all the runny egg yolk with your sandwich as you go.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cayenne-Cinnamon Baby Back Ribs

Whoa, two posts in one day, what's going on??? Unemployment, that's what. No, I wasn't fired. And no, I wasn't laid off. My judicial clerkship ended yesterday. Can you believe how quickly a whole year passed? It's been over a year since I graduated law school, one year since I took the bar exam, and 8 months since I got sworn in as a brand spanking new attorney. Oh, how time flies...

So, what's next? Nothing just yet, but I'm looking. It's kind of scary to be moving forward without a concrete plan, but I'm pretty sure it'll be OK. I've got a solid resume with a lot of good work experience, there are plenty of legal job search directories out there, and I've got Dan + my parents rooting for me. In the meantime, I'm just going to be a job application-mailing, food-blogging machine.

Anyway, enough about me. Lets get back to the really important stuff -- ribs. Juicy, meaty, glazed ribs. Ribs that ooze fatty, salty, porky juices with every bite. Ribs that were rubbed, roasted, glazed, broiled, and ready to eat in under two hours. Ribs so good that between dinner last night and lunch today, all 6 pounds of them are gone.

This was my first time making ribs, and I was under a bit of a time crunch. Usually, stuff like this need to cook for several hours on low heat to get that lovely fall-off-the-bone quality. Unfortunately, I didn't have several hours. I didn't get home from work until after 6pm, and my guests were scheduled to arrive at 7:30. Luckily, the Steamy Kitchen blog had a rib recipe that involved cooking the meat at slightly higher heat for less time. 

Because I was cooking 6 pounds of meat instead of 3, I actually had to keep my ribs in the oven for a little longer than the recipe called for -- after one hour, some of the meat was still bloody. I probably should have cooked everything even longer than I ultimately did, because the meat didn't fall off the bone like it was supposed to. Still, the ribs were still very tasty, and my guests had no complaints. I think my friend Andrew ate over a pound of meat by himself! Awesome.

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of the Steamy Kitchen blog.
(Her pictures make these ribs look way more delicious than mine do...)

For other great recipes, click here or here.

Dan in the Kitchen -- Creamed Spinach

Dan's back in the kitchen folks, and this time he's making creamed spinach for a cozy little dinner party. As my "sous-chef", he technically had a hand in every other dish served -- shredding cheese for the mac n' cheese, mashing potatoes for the garlic mashed potatoes, etc. -- but this was the dish that he was entirely responsible for from start to finish. I actually wanted to put him in charge of cooking the pork ribs, but he said that was more of a "Tina in the Kitchen" endeavor. Oh well. Next time...

Creamed spinach is one of our favorite steakhouse sides -- it's creamy, savory, and super delicious. But, considering how cheap the ingredients are and how easy it is to make, especially if you're using pre-cooked/chopped frozen spinach, it's kind of a rip off that most restaurants charge $7 for a bowl of the stuff.  

All you have to do is saute some garlic in butter, dump cooked/chopped spinach into the pot, add cream, stir, season, and let the whole thing simmer into perfection. 

Voila, creamed spinach! So easy, a caveman -- or, an inexperienced cook who needs very exact, step-by-step instructions** -- can do it. 

** Based on suggestions from numerous people, I showed Dan the "Cooking for Engineers" blog. Unsurprisingly, he found the cooking flowcharts to be incredibly logical and understandable. We'll definitely have to start using recipes from that blog!

Creamed Spinach (Adapted from Emeril Lagasse's recipe)

- 1 package frozen pre-cooked/chopped spinach, thawed
- 1 cup cream
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- A pinch of nutmeg
- Salt/pepper to taste

(1) In a pot, melt butter on medium heat.
(2) Add minced garlic, cook until lightly soft and fragrant, about a minute.
(3) Scoop all the spinach into the pot, and stir to allow the greens to soak up the garlicky butter, as well as break up any lumps in the spinach. Cook until liquid is released.
(4) Add cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook until the liquid has reduced to approximately half the original amount, about 4-5 minutes.
** Seasoning note from Dan -- if you're adding salt straight from the canister, do so with a gentle side to side shaking motion rather than a down-up pouring motion. This will help you control the speed at which salt is added, as well as the amount of salt that goes into the dish. Gently shake a little salt over every part of the pot, stir, and taste. If it's not salty enough, add more.
(5) Remove from heat and serve right away.
** Since this dish comes together so quickly, it's best to make it last so that it doesn't just sit around and congeal while the other food is being cooked. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dan in the Kitchen -- Grilled Cream Cheese and Colby Jack Sandwich

So, I'd like to introduce a new series of posts called "Dan in the Kitchen," where I document Dan's forays into the kitchen. I figure since I'm not always in the mood to cook, but we still need to eat, everyone would benefit from Dan gaining some cooking skills. Until we moved in together, pretty much all Dan ate was buffalo chicken subs from the student center deli, Cheez-its and pasta with bottled spaghetti sauce. To this day, if I'm not around for dinner, or if I don't feel like cooking, he'll just have a few beers and a pack of Oreos. So unappetizing, not to mention super unhealthy. I have high hopes that this "Dan in the Kitchen" thing is really going to turn things around for his eating habits. At the very least, this will add some variety to his diet. And, it's going to be fun to teach Dan how to cook!

I'm convinced that Dan could actually be a great cook if he put his mind to it. He's an engineer, so he deals with long, complicated instructions and handles delicate circuitry for a living -- surely he could follow a recipe with equal skill and finesse! I mean, constructing a meal is not so different than building a satellite, right?

The first recipe from Dan in the Kitchen is the humble grilled cheese sandwich, jazzed up with cream cheese and colby jack. OK, so maybe this isn't "healthy" per se, but we have to start somewhere, and this is a straightforward, frills-free recipe that's super delicious and satisfying. Just butter some bread, throw on some cheese, and cook it all on a hot pan. The cream cheese was my idea -- Dan was deeply skeptical, but he was nice enough to let me bully him into using it. 

The cream cheese turned out to be a fantastic idea. It added a whole new level of goeey, tangy, cheesiness to the sandwich that provided a wonderful contrast to the crunchy, buttery bread. The bread was perhaps a little too crunchy, but Dan has always liked his breads a little more toasted than I do. Either way, delicious! Not a bad start for Dan in the Kitchen.

Grilled Cream Cheese and Colby Jack Sandwich

- 2 slices bread, buttered on both sides
- 1 slab cream cheese
- 1 slice of colby jack cheese

(1) Heat a pan on medium heat. When the pan is hot, slap on both pieces of bread.
(2) Toast one side of the bread to golden brown, then flip over and layer with cheese -- cream cheese on one slice, colby jack on the other.
(3) Cook for about 30 seconds, until cheese is slightly melted, then place one piece of bread on top of the other (cheese to cheese) and press down until the two cheeses are molded together.
(4) When the bread is toasted to your satisfaction, and the cheese is perfectly melty and gooey, take your sandwich off the heat and slide it onto a plate.
** If you find (as we did) that your colby jack doesn't melt as nicely as you hoped, stick your sandwich in the oven and broil on low heat for about 3-4 minutes.
(5) Cut in half and enjoy hot with a cold soda and some chips.